The elusive street artist Banksy has released a two-minute video (posted below) featuring his new art works in Gaza which highlight the plight of the area’s 1.8 million Palestinian residents. “Gaza is often described as ‘the world’s largest open air prison’ because no-one is allowed to enter or leave,” his website explains. “But that seems a bit unfair to prisons – they don’t have their electricity and drinking water cut off randomly almost every day.”
This isn’t the first time the artist has highlighted the Palestinian struggle. In 2005, he placed work on the controversial Israeli West Bank barrier, which in Arabic is called the “Wall of Apartheid,” and the images went viral soon after they were made. At the time, Banksy said the following about the project:
“The segregation wall is a disgrace. On the Israeli side it’s all manicured lawns and SUVs, on the other side it’s just dust and men looking for work. The possibility I find exciting is you could turn the world’s most invasive and degrading structure into the world’s longest gallery of free speech and bad art. And I like to think I can help with that bit.”
He added: “Besides, I love Palestine – all of the giant walls, the dirt and the falafel stalls remind you of Glastonbury.”
The first image of the Gaza project, representing the Greek myth of Niobe, was published on his Instagram account (@banksy.co.uk) this morning, while the video and photographs were released later in the day. Animal New York was able to confirm with the artist’s publicist, Jo Brooks, that the new social media account is indeed real. In Greek mythology, Niobe was the Queen of Thebes who had 14 children and taunted Leto, who only had two children, Apollo and Artemis. In his rage, Leto sent his children to kill all Niobe’s offspring.
During last summer’s bombing of Gaza by the Israeli military, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that 2,205 people in Gaza were killed, including 1,483 civilians, while the Gaza Health Ministry reported that an additional 10,626 people were injured. During the 49 day conflict, Hamas and other Islamist forces fired rockets and mortars at Israel. Sixty-six Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were killed during he fighting, while 469 soldiers and 87 civilians were wounded.